Tuesday 2 March 2010

Silver Tabby Cat Finnegan

Finegan. Click on the picture to go to the Flickr original

What about this cat? Well, he is an ordinary but extraordinary cat as all cats are extraordinary, certainly in terms of their agility. I feed a stray cat, who I named, Timmy, who comes about once a day. He comes over a high brick wall (about 7 feet in height). He simply ambles up to it and jumps to the top. Cats leap their way to about two thirds up the wall then almost climb the remainder with their claws and momentum.

Finegan looks like an athletic cat as he is slender and probably not too heavy. He has blue eyes, Blue eyes are eyes where the pigment has been taken out of the iris. Cats that are white and coloured (bicolors) sometimes have blue eyes as the piebald gene or whiting gene turns the eyes blue as well as parts of the coat white. All white cats sometimes have odd-eyes, one coloured and one blue. The famous white Turkish Angoras have odd eyes sometimes as I recall.

Finnegan has a beautiful tabby "M" mark on his forehead - nice and symmetrical and a very nice looking M it is. I feel that I have become a bit of an expert on the tabby M as I have seen a lot of them!

He seems to be a silver tabby and perhaps a mackerel tabby judging by the stripes on his legs but I don't believe that stripes on legs means that the cat is a mackerel tabby.

He has a nice square and quite long muzzle which is a bit like the muzzle on the Chartreux and which makes the Chartreux look like it is smiling all the time.

The silver tabby is caused by the presence of the Agouti gene (A) that produces the tabby appearance by colour banding each individual hair stand and the inhibitor gene (signified by the letter I) that supresses the production of pigment that is fed into the growing hair. There is also the mackerel tabby gene (if Finnegan is a mackerel tabby) Mc. In the silver tabby the expression of the inhibitor gene is at a fairly low level. In the chinchilla silver, which is produced by the same gene combination there is a high level of expression of the inhibitor gene and the cat is much more silver looking as a consequence. A feature of the inhibitor gene is its wide range of expression.

Finnegan is a great looking cat and this photo is part of my Yahoo cat-photo-technique group.

Michael Avatar

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Biofuels Are Killing the Tiger

Biofuels don't even work and they are killing the Sumatran tiger. The Sumatran tiger as you would expect lives on the island of Sumatra, which is one of the islands of Asia (another is the third largest island in the world, Borneo) that is being deforested in part to make way for plantations where biofuels are grown.

Sumatran tiger - photo by Craig Grobler (Flickr)

Biofuels are meant to reduce carbon emissions, which in turn will help to control, over the long term, global warming. Biofuels are produced from plant matter on plantations. For example Palm oil, like other vegetable oils, can be used to create biodiesel for internal combustion engines. Biodiesel has been promoted as a renewable energy source to reduce net emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Therefore, biodiesel is seen as a way to decrease the impact of the greenhouse effect and as a way of diversifying energy supplies to assist national energy security plans (Wikipedia authors). Palm oil is extracted from the Oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis), which is grown on plantations.

The making of biofuels is now big business in places like Sumatra, Indonesia and Malaysia. These are Asian countries where there are dense ancient forests that are the home to tree dwelling and forest dwelling animals one of which is the Sumatran tiger, the smallest of the tigers and which is critically endangered per the IUCN Red List. Logging ancient forest to make way for biofuel plantations could be made out to be worthwhile (not for me) if it saved the planet from global warming and catastrophe but it doesn't work. The plan, the analysis call it what you like is fatally flawed so we are killing the tiger for no good reason other than to make photocopying paper, which is another reason to chop down these forests.

A recent government study has concluded that burning fossil fuels (coal or oil dug up from the ground) is better for the environment that the so-called green fuels made from plantation crops. What is cruel and totally mad is that the UK governments targets for increasing the use of biofuels (in diesel for cars, for example), will result in millions of acres of forest being logged (and some just burnt!) to make way for these plantations.

But some of the most commonly used biofuels fail to meet even the minimum sustainability standard set by the European Commission. The standard demands that one litre of biofuel should reduce emissions by at least 35% over the same amount of fossil fuel. The study concludes that the use of biofuels actually increases carbon emissions by 31%! This is because of the release of carbon into the atmosphere when forest is burnt and turned into plantations. In short the maths don't add up and we are killing the wildlife and the precious Sumatran tiger for nothing (except large profits of course). In an interesting statistic, it is said that a palm oil plantation will take 840 years to soak up the carbon released by the burning of the forest that was removed to make space for it.

The trouble now is that an industry has been built around biofuels that is worth 3 billion euros in Euros in subsidies alone in Europe. This big business will protect itself even if it is built on sand and quite pointless. One argument is that palm oil trees create another forest, which is sustainable. The rules are being changed or bent to fit into the new process mad or not.

The expansion of the palm oil business in Indonesia has turned the country into the world's third largest emitter of CO2. An area of forest the size of Wales, UK, is lost every year in Indonesia! Another precious animal that is on the brink of extinction is the orag-utan.

The world is mad and I am angry.

Michael Avatar

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Friday 12 February 2010

Genetics of the Burmilla Cat

The coat is short. There is a white undercoat, profusely shaded with tipping. The colours allowed for the Burmese are allowed for the Burmilla. The basic genotype is A-cbcbI- to which should be added the genes that create the colored varieties. The dominant gene: I, produces the white undercoat.

The shaded Burmilla is agouti. The agouti varieties are called Asians. The jet black Burmese (a non-traditional colour) is called a Bombay.

Michael Avatar

From Genetics of the Burmilla Cat to Home page.

Monday 8 February 2010

Declawing Cats: An International Viewpoint

It occurred to me today that there is an important international viewpoint to declawing cats that should not be overlooked. American is the home of declawing. Please note this is not a knock the USA dialogue, far from it. It is simply stating fact. I have no criticism of the Americans - none. We are all human!

America is both the home of declawing and the leading nation on the planet. Where they lead others follow, including the UK. And there are a number of fast developing nations such as India and China and indeed many more who are rapidly becoming westernised. Well China is not becoming westernised but it is becoming relatively wealthy.

It is not unreasonable to speculate that countries that are growing and becoming more integrated into the world economy might adapt the concept that declawing is something that is acceptable as, after all, the mighty USA do it.

In other words the leader should set a good example and they are categorically not doing that. They are setting a bad example. An example as to how not to relate to the domestic cat.

This is quite worrying because if veterinarians in say India get on the declawing gravy train now it will simply be the formation of another culture where the domestic cat is treated like an inanimate object to modify at will. At the moment places like India are a blank slate in terms of what is wrong about declawing. It is essential, I feel, that they learn the correct attitude to declawing to prevent it catching on.

Just a thought. Declawing cats has an international context.

From Declawing Cats: An International Viewpoint to Home Page

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Piercing the bodies of cats is illegal but not declawing!

Yes, piercing the bodies of cats is illegal but not declawing! This raises some serious questions of the consistent application of the criminal laws of the USA. Here is the story.

A person decided to take three stray cats, make body piercings of the cats (modern thing this) in the ears, neck and tail.

She used sterilised equipment and did it carefully and without malice. The intention was to sell them as gothic kittens.

OK its sad and sick. Well it is from my standpoint. But why is she being prosecuted for animal cruelty when people who with the assistance of vets declaw their cats (a far more damaging process) and away get of scot free every time, millions of times?

We are talking about northeastern Pennsylvania but that is not really relevant.

I think the reason is this. She damaged a cat's tail in the process (actually see docked it). But the difference is very fine indeed between this and declawing cats.

In one article I say that declawing is deemed legal because the cat has no individual rights (and needs an advocate) but in this case the stray cats were adopted by the person concerned and therefore it could be argued that the person did it to her own cats. I do a follow up page on this here:
No laws against cat tail docking.

Is this any different to cat microchips that are implanted in the skin of cats? Some of these cats develop cancer and die.

Conclusion: She will not be found guilty although she should. It indicates the confused state of US animal cruelty laws in respect of declawing, in my view.

From Piercing the bodies of cats is illegal but not declawing! to Home Page

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